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What Is the Best Workout Split?

It’s certain that when you finally decide to go to the gym to reach your personal fitness goals you want to do the best workout split that there is. The one that gives the best results in the least amount of time.

However, it’s not easy to figure out what is the best workout split for you. There are many different training splits, where some are better than others depending on specific factors.

This article explains what is important to consider when determining what is the best workout split for you. In addition, it covers the most popular workout splits and presents various workout schedules you could use.

Table Of Contents

Factors to Consider

As you may already know, finding out what diet is best for you includes different factors that must be taken into consideration. The same goes when identifying the best workout split.

Let’s be honest, there is no such thing as one size fits all diet or workout plan that will help you achieve the best result, fast. Therefore, you want both diet and training program to be personalized.

Variables that should be taken into account are the following.

1. Training Experience

The most common mistake among the new gym-goers is that their workout split is not aligned with their training experience.

Therefore, you should think about which category do you fall into:

  • Beginner – 0 to a 1-year of training experience
  • Intermediate – 1 to a 3-year training experience
  • Advanced – at least 4 to a 5-year training experience

Generally speaking, beginners benefit more by following the full-body or upper/lower workout split and training 2-4 times a week. In fact, for some novices, a simple beginner workout at home without equipment would be a good enough workout split at the start.

On another hand, most intermediate and advanced lifters require going to the gym 3-6 times a week. As far as the split itself goes, they can follow any of the workout splits.

2. Training Goals

Next, you should take into consideration your personal fitness goal. That could be to build a particular muscle group, perform a specific exercise better, increase strength, etc.

However, if you don’t have a particular goal in mind, then this factor won’t play a major role when picking the best workout split. Nevertheless, if you do have a clear goal, you want to choose the right split that will allow you for some customization. This will allow you to tailor your workouts for a better chance of achieving that goal.

3. Lifestyle and Daily Non-Exercise Activity

Then should look at your lifestyle and daily non-exercise activity, think about how active you are during the day. For instance, if you are someone that has a hard labour job then you could probably benefit by training less frequently.

The opposite is better if you are sitting at the office majority of the day and aren’t active in your free time. In other words, an inactive individual could see better results by increasing your training frequency.

4. Recovery Capabilities

Depending on the factor above, your recovery capabilities may differ. For example, you may need more rest days if you have a hard labour job or are highly active during the day. Hence, it was advised to lower the training frequency previously.

However, recovery needs also differ from person to person and don’t just depend on lifestyle and non-exercise activity. It’s something that you will have to test and see yourself.

Therefore, pay attention to the level of soreness after every training session and see how fast you recover. In addition, notice which muscle groups recover faster than others. Simply put, you don’t want to train a muscle group that is ridiculously sore from the previous workout.

5. Training Schedule

Again, this last factor is connected with the previous two and it’s about figuring out how many days a week you could train. It’s important to pick a realistic number which you could sustain forever.

Ideally, for the best possible result, you want to go to the gym 3-5 times a week. However, if you can only go to the gym only once or two times, then you are limited with the number of splits which you can choose from.

For such low training frequency (1-2 times a week), the best split would be the full-body workout split, which I will cover up next.

The Full-Body Workout Split

The full-body workout split is one of the most effective splits out there, especially for the beginner lifters. When following a full-body workout routine you train your entire body every training session.

Some believe that it is impossible to train your whole body in a single session. Due to a time-restriction or an individual’s work capacity. However, the truth is that when following a full-body workout split, you don’t want to train until extreme fatigue. Which also means that this workout split can even save you some time.

Instead, you want to do enough training volume in a week, splitting it up accordingly. In short, one or two compound exercises of 3 to 4 sets per major muscle group is enough to have a great full-body workout.

Of course, you won’t be able to train every single body part in a single session if you don’t want it to drag for hours. Therefore, it’s best to do different exercises every other day, as displayed in the example below (Full-Body A & Full-Body B).

The Full-Body Split Split Routine

The full-body workout split is great for beginners who want to practise the basic weight lifting movement and don’t need much training volume. Therefore, for most beginners, the full-body workout routine done 2 to 3 times a week is a great starting point.

Intermediate and advanced trainees can also benefit from such a workout split. However, the program has to be planned properly, having appropriate exercise selection, training volume, intensity and frequency.

Lastly, such a workout split is also a wise option when looking to get back into working out after a long break.

PROS OF THE FULL-BODY SPLIT

  • Minimal fatigue & soreness
  • Best for beginner athletes
  • Can be time-efficient
  • Allows to practice exercises more often
  • High training frequency
  • Ability to use the highest total loads per session

CONS OF THE FULL-BODY SPLIT

  • Less focus on smaller muscle groups
  • Requires proper program planning
  • Lack of volume per body part

The Upper/Lower Workout Split

The upper/lower workout split requires you to train the upper body one day and the lower body another day. During the upper body day, you train your chest, back, shoulders and arms. Lower body days include training all your leg muscles and could also include some abdominal/core work. Upper/lower workout split allows focusing more on particular muscle groups by doing more total volume while using fairly high loads.

The Upper/Lower Split Split Routine

Such a split works best when your schedule allows you to train 4 days a week. It can be done less frequently, for instance, 2 times a week. However, a person who can train only 2 days a week, the full-body workout split would probably be more effective.

The upper/lower workout split is more suited for intermediate and advanced athletes training 4-6 days a week. Nevertheless, beginner trainees could also benefit from the upper/lower split training up to 4 times a week.

PROS OF THE UPPER/LOWER SPLIT

  • High training frequency
  • Higher focus on particular areas
  • Best for intermediate athletes
  • Ability to use the high total loads per session

CONS OF THE UPPER/LOWER SPLIT

  • Lack of volume per body part

The Push/Pull/Legs Workout Split

The push/pull/legs split is divided in push, pull and leg exercises performed on a specific day. In comparison to the lower/upper workout split, push/pull/legs split is more focused on the upper body muscles.

When following the push/pull/legs workout split one day you will train “push” exercises, such as the bench press, shoulder press, triceps push-downs, etc. On the pull day, you will do pulling movements like pull-ups, lat pull-downs, rows, biceps curls, etc. Leg days include exercises where you work your legs, similarly to a lower-body day in the upper/lower workout routine.

When it comes to training the abdominal/core area, I personally prefer to train it on either the pull or leg days. Mostly because both pull and leg days seem to be shorter than push day.

The Push/Pull/Legs Split Split Routine

The push/pull/legs split can be done by training only 3 days a week. However, you can reap the full benefits of the split by training 6 days a week.

By following a push/pull/legs workout split 6 times you can train each body part twice a week. Moreover, you can do significantly more total work (higher volume) which is best for maximum muscle growth. Therefore, the push/pull/legs workout split is best for intermediate and advanced lifters.

PROS OF THE PUSH/PULL/LEGS SPLIT

  • High training frequency
  • Higher focus on smaller muscle groups
  • Best for intermediate, advanced athletes
  • High volume per body part

CONS OF THE PUSH/PULL/LEGS SPLIT

  • Requires more time spent in the gym
  • Risk impaired recovery if not monitored correctly

The Body Part Split or the “Bro Split”

Finally, the last workout split that you may see people follow is known as the body part split or the bodybuilding “bro split”. When following such a workout split, each day in the gym is focused on one or more particular body parts.

The Bro Split Split Routine

Because each body part is being trained on a separate day, it requires training 5-6 times a week. The body part or the “bro split” is mostly done by the highly advanced athletes that want to focus on a specific body part each training day.

For beginner and intermediate trainees, it’s best to avoid such a workout split and follow the above-mentioned splits. Simply less experienced athletes require less total volume per session and would benefit more by training more frequently.

PROS OF THE “BRO SPLIT”

  • Highest volume per body part
  • Highest focus on smaller muscle groups
  • High exercises selection

CONS OF THE “BRO SPLIT”

  • Low training frequency
  • Inability to use the highest total loads per session
  • Requires more time spent in the gym
  • Increased likelihood of “wasted” exercises

Sample Workout Schedules

It’s certain that at the end of the day you have to take into consideration your schedule to see how often you can train. Furthermore, you don’t have to follow one or the other workout split. It’s okay to customize or even create your own if you know how to make a workout plan.

To show you some examples, I have put up possible samples of workout splits you could follow depending on how many days a week you can train.

2-Day Workout Split

In case of only 2 days available for training, the best 2-day workout split would be the full-body workout split. With such a split allows training each muscle group twice a week. Note, that it’s best to have at least one or two rest days in between the sessions, to allow your body to recover.

As mentioned before, this split is a great place to start working out for most beginners. However, for intermediate and advanced athletes, the training volume might not be high enough. Therefore, experienced lifters might find it hard to keep progressing following such a 2-day workout split.

Monday – Full-body A workout
Tuesday – Rest
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – Full-body B workout
Friday – Rest
Saturday – Rest
Sunday – Rest

You could also follow an upper/lower workout split if only 2 days are available for going to the gym. However, upper/lower splits done only 2 times a week, allow you to train each body part only once a week. This makes it a less effective split than the full-body split done twice a week. Due to the recommendation of training each muscle group at least 2 times a week.

Monday – Upper body workout
Tuesday – Rest
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – Lower body workout
Friday – Rest
Saturday – Rest
Sunday – Rest

3-Day Workout Split

3 days available for training allows having more variety in your workouts, yet still, the better workout split, in this case, would be the full-body split. It would allow training each muscle group 3 times a week, having at least one day off in between the sessions.

Monday – Full-body A workout
Tuesday – Rest
Wednesday – Full-body B workout
Thursday – Rest
Friday – Full-body A workout
Saturday – Rest
Sunday – Rest

Upper/lower workout split done in succession by training 3 days a week can also be a good plan to follow. Although, following this routine, you would stimulate each major muscle group 1.5 times a week, on average.

Monday – Upper body workout
Tuesday – Rest
Wednesday -Lowe body workout
Thursday – Rest
Friday – Upper body workout
Saturday – Rest
Sunday – Rest

Push/pull/legs workout split can also be done if training 3 days a week. Nevertheless, due to higher training frequency, the full-body workout split and even an upper/lower split would be a better option.

Monday – Push workout
Tuesday – Rest
Wednesday -Pull workout
Thursday – Rest
Friday – Leg workout
Saturday – Rest
Sunday – Rest

4-Day Workout Split

Training 4 days a week, allows you to have higher training frequency, as well as more training volume. Four workouts a week is a “sweet spot” for most intermediate athletes and a good dose of training for advanced athletes. a 4-day workout split, programmed properly, allows intermediate and advanced lifters to progress continuously.

However, for people who are just starting out training, a 4-day workout split might be simply too much. Therefore, a 2 or 3-day workout split would be a better option for them.

The best workout split for working out 4 times a week would be an upper/lower split. Each muscle group would be stimulated twice a week, and you would have a rest day or two in between two consecutive sessions.

Monday – Upper body workout
Tuesday – Lower body workout
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – Upper body workout
Friday – Lower body workout
Saturday – Rest
Sunday – Rest

Having 4 days available to train also allows for more customization of your workout split. For example, let’s say you want to prioritize your upper body more, by increasing training frequency and volume. Then you could do a push/pull/legs split, three days a week and on the fourth day, you could train your upper body. That is what I personally did during my second year of working out.

Monday – Push workout
Tuesday – Pull workout
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – Leg workout
Friday – Upper body workout
Saturday – Rest
Sunday – Rest

The opposite can also be done, in case you would like to focus more on lower body development. In any case, it is important that you structure your plan properly so that you have sufficient rest in between sessions. Make sure that you don’t train the same muscle group the next day, especially if it is still sore.

5-Day Workout Split & 6-Day Workout Split

5 and 6-day workout splits are best suited for highly experienced athletes, and also some intermediates, who are serious about training. Personally, I wouldn’t advise any beginner to start training by following 5 or 6-day splits.

That being said, by being able to train 5 or 6 days a week, allows you to do almost any kind of workout program.

For instance, you could do the full-body workout routine 5 times a week. Although it should be programmed properly, having appropriate exercise selection, volume and intensity. Furthermore, the recovery should be monitored continuously.

Monday – Full-body A workout
Tuesday – Full-body B workout
Wednesday – Full-body A workout
Thursday – Rest
Friday – Full-body B workout
Saturday – Full-body A workout
Sunday – Rest

Up next, the body part or the “bro split” can also be followed, although, it’s not something I would advise. Simply because there are far more effective workout splits that you could do, which are discussed in the article.

Monday – Chest workout
Tuesday – Back workout
Wednesday – Shoulder workout
Thursday – Rest
Friday – Leg workout
Saturday – Arm workout
Sunday – Rest

The upper/lower workout split can be done 6 times a week, which would allow you to train each muscle group 3 times per week.

Monday – Upper body workout
Tuesday – Lower body workout
Wednesday – Upper body workout
Thursday – Lower body workout
Friday – Upper body workout
Saturday – Lower body workout
Sunday – Rest

Furthermore, the push/pull/legs split could also be a great option, if you have 6 days available to train. Such a split would allow you to train with the highest volume while training each body part twice a week.

Monday – Push workout
Tuesday – Pull workout
Wednesday – Leg workout
Thursday – Push workout
Friday – Pull workout
Saturday – Leg workout
Sunday – Rest

Bear in mind, that you could always customize your personal training split. The ones that I showed you are the most popular ones you will see out there.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Workout Splits

What is the most effective workout split?

Following the resistance training recommendations, the most effective workout split for you is the one that is appropriate for your training experience. Additionally, it should have a proper exercise selection, intensity, volume and a training frequency of 2-3 times a week. Therefore, the full-body and upper/lower splits, done 2-3 and 4-6 times a week respectively, are the most effective for most athletes.

How do you make a workout split?

You could make a workout split following these steps:
1. Choose a workout split template based on your training experience, goals, daily activity level, recovery capabilities and training schedule.
2. Select the right exercises for your workout split.
3. Decide on the sets and reps for each exercise.
4. Do the workout, adjust variables (exercises, exercise sequence, sets, reps, load, rest-time), if needed.

What is the best workout split for beginners?

For most beginners, the full-body workout split done 2-3 days a week would be the best split to start with. Some more experienced beginners could also do upper/lower workout split 4 times a week.

Are Bro splits good?

The body part splits or the “Bro splits” can be done by highly advanced athletes that require a high total volume of training. However, “Bro splits” aren’t the most optimal workout splits out there. The full-body, upper/lower and the push/pull/legs workout splits are far more effective. They allow you to stimulate muscles more frequently and spread the total training volume per each muscle group evenly throughout the week.

What split do bodybuilders use?

In the past, most bodybuilders had a tendency of using the body part splits or the “Bro splits”. However, with more research done in the field of resistance training, the tendencies have changed. These days, you can see most bodybuilders follow a variety of upper/lower and push/pull/legs workout splits.

What is the best workout split for mass?

In order to stimulate muscle hypertrophy, increase muscle size/mass, it’s best to follow splits like the upper/lower and the push/pull/legs workout split. These workout routines allow for optimal exercise selection, frequent muscle stimulus and appropriate training volume, which are the main muscle growth drivers.

Key Takeaways of Choosing the Best Workout Split

Before choosing the best workout split for you, it’s important to take into consideration the following factors:

  1. Training Experience
  2. Training Goals
  3. Daily Non-Exercise Activity
  4. Recovery Capabilities
  5. Training Schedule

The most popular workout splits are:

  • The Full-Body Workout Split
  • The Upper/Lower Workout Split
  • The Push/Pull/Legs Workout Split
  • The Body Part Split or the “Bro Split”

The full-body workout split, done 2 or 3 days a week is best for beginners.

The upper/lower workout split performed 4 or even 6 days a week could be the most beneficial for intermediate and advanced athletes.

The push/pull/legs workout split done 6 times a week is best for advanced lifters and some intermediates who are serious about working out.

The body part or the “bro split” could be done 5 to 6 times a week by both intermediate and advanced trainees, although it’s not the most optimal workout program.

At the end of the day, you shouldn’t follow the best workout split that there is if you don’t like it. Instead, you should workout routine that you enjoy. That is because, in fitness, the best diet and training plan is the one that you can follow forever.

That’s it, I hope the article helped you find out what is the best workout routine for you.

In case you have any questions in regards to this post or any other fitness topic – contact me!

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